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ACLU Applauds Rulings that Protect Democracy

August 01, 2018
DETROIT, Mich. – Two court rulings this week reaffirmed fundamental principles that ensure Michigan’s electoral system is fair. The first decision, filed late yesterday by the State Supreme Court, ensures that the anti-gerrymandering proposal, led by Voters Not Politicians, will be on the November ballot.  If successful, the initiative will create an independent redistricting commission that will draw new legislative boundaries following the next 2020 census.  The second decision, issued today by U.S District Judge Gershwin Drain, rejected a state law that would have eliminated straight-ticket voting. In his103-page opinion, Drain stated that without straight-party voting, lines at the polls would dramatically increase, especially for African-Americans who vote straight-party ticket at far higher rates than white people.
 
“Judge Drain can plainly see that the attack on straight-party voting was an effort to disenfranchise African-American voters,” said Kary Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan. “Today’s ruling will make the ballot box more accessible to all voters, which is what lawmakers should be striving to do, not limiting it. This ruling, along with yesterday’s decision to allow an anti-gerrymandering initiative on the November ballot is all great news for Michigan voters.” 
 
State lawmakers had passed legislation banning straight-party tickets and Governor Snyder signed it into law in 2016. A lawsuit was filed challenging the ban. Judge Gershwin issued a preliminary injunction in July 2016 preventing the law from going into effect. Judge Drain's ruling today is the result of that litigation. 
 
The ACLU of Michigan is also helping to lead an effort – Promote the Vote – that would make voting more accessible to all Michiganders by requiring no excuse absentee voting, same day registration, and automatic voter registration at the Secretary of State’s office. 
 
“There has never been a more important time for Michigan residents to take steps to ensure that the right to vote can be fully realized by dismantling efforts to suppress the vote and by putting in place mechanisms that ensure that every voice is heard,” Moss said.
 
Read Judge Drain's full opinion here.

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